Prashar Lake- Trekking & Camping Guide
- April 01, 2020
- Tanushekha Agnihottri
Prashar lake is one of the most mythologically important places for people of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is equally popular amongst the trekking enthusiasts. The moment I read about it; I was astonished to discover that there is a lake at an altitude of 9000 ft. & its depth is unknown till now. It was a few years ago that I added Prashar lake in my bucket list & nothing beats the feeling of ticking off things from the list.
The lake is an oval shape water body with the backdrop of the Dhauladhar range of Himalayas. The beauty of the lake remains enchanting throughout the year.
One interesting thing about the lake is its tiny island formed in the middle which floats across the lake. The island covers 29% of the area while the water content is about 71%. Coincidentally, that is exactly the proportion of land and water on the earth, which also led to the speculation that this is some mythical, microcosmic representation of the planet.
Although the island moves really slow that its movement is not visible, you can certainly notice the change in the position.
The panoramic views of snowcapped Himalayas, chirping birds in the sky, the peace at the temple make Prashar Lake a place that every traveler should visit once.
Mythology Behind the Origin of Prashar Lake
When you google Prashar Lake, you’ll come across hundreds of experiences and mythology behind the lake. I was very curious to talk to locals about it because who else can narrate it better than them.
According to the villagers, this lake was formed by Pandavas when they were returning home after Mahabharata. Dev Kamrunag & his deity wanted to find a place to stay for and Pandavas accompanied them for the quest. Dev Kamrunag loved the place so much that he decided to stay here for the rest of his life. On his request, Bheemsen, one of the Pandava brothers, formed the lake by pushing his elbow and forearm on the peak of the mountain. And that is the reason people believe in the oval shape of the lake.
The three-storied, pagoda-shaped temple is said to have been built in the 13th century under the patronage of Ban Sen- the king of Mandi. Local stories say that the temple structure was shaped with a single Deodar tree and the façade, as well as interiors, boast intricate wood carvings of animals and serpents. The temple is dedicated to Rishi Prashar who meditated near this pristine lake.
The three-storied, Pagoda-shaped Temple near Prashar Lake.
How to Reach
There are good numbers of Volvo buses running everyday from Delhi to Mandi. You will reach Mandi in 9-10 hours’ time. After that catch a bus from Mandi Bus Stand at 7 AM that goes till Prashar Lake every day and comes back at 2 PM. Please confirm the timings with local people as bus timings keep changing season to season.
Approx. Cost by Bus- 900-1200 INR
If you’re driving your own vehicle the nearest cities are Delhi & Chandigarh, 491KM & 232 KM respectively. It will take approximately 11 hours to reach Prashar lake from Delhi and 7 hours from Chandigarh.
The route that you can follow is New Delhi- Chandigarh- Roopnagar – Ghanauli – Kiratpur Sahib – Bilaspur – Barmana – Sundernagar – Mandi- Bijani – Kamand – Baggi – Prashar Lake.
Approx. Cost by Private Vehicle- 7000 INR (including fuel charges for self-driving car)
The closest airport to Mandi is the Bhuntar Airport in Kullu at around 59 km. From Airport you can hire a private cab to reach either Mandi or Prashar Lake.
Approx. Cost by Air- 2500 INR (Including Air fare from Delhi & Cab fare from Bhuntar Airport)
Nearest Railway station is Joginder Nagar which is 71 KM away from Mandi & 87 KM from Prashar Lake. Although there is direct train from New Delhi, you can reach Chandigarh by train and then can hire a cab to reach Prashar Lake.
Approx. Cost by Train- 800 INR
The most convenient & cheapest commuting option is Bus as there are plenty of them running from New Delhi & Chandigarh every day.
Places to Stay
Camping is the best option if you’re trekking to Prashar Lake. However, if you do not want to stay outdoors freezing you can book the PWD & Forest Department Guesthouses. Please make the booking in advance as there is high demand throughout the year. Read the detailed guide for booking the guest house How to book PWD & FRH Guest Houses near Prashar Lake.
PWD Guest house near Prashar Lake
Trek to Prashar Lake
Prashar Lake trek is an often-forgotten trail of the region. Mostly because there is now full road connectivity leading up to the lake itself. But trekking is any day a better option. The trails will surprise you throughout; the meadows have spectacular views of Dhauladhar Range and the locals you meet on the way will greet you with a warm smile.
Itinerary- Two Days & One night
The ideal itinerary for Prashar Lake would be of 2 days & 1 night, including trekking & camping at the top.
There are many local camping and trekking guides available in Baggi & Mandi. The one I would suggest is Kishna Camps. Their packages are economical and covers all your meals, camping, bonfire and guide for trekking. There are two packages available one which includes pick up & drop at Mandi and others excluding it.
Also, you should take at least a guide with you since there have been a few cases where people lost their lives. I was surprised to read many of the bloggers have mentioned this as beginners’ trek. Well, it’s not at all a beginners’ trek, it is moderately difficult and requires a lot of stamina to keep the pace at steep mountains. I have done many treks in the Southern Region of India but the treks in Northern region are way more difficult because of the steep terrains and cavernous valleys. Click the link to read about my previous trekking expereinces Treks in South India & Nepal
You’ll witness majestic views of Dhauladhar Range of The Himalayas through out during the trek.
Day 1- Trekking & Camping at the Top
On day 1, we started at 9 AM from Mandi to reach Baggi Village (base camp) by 10:30 AM. One pro tip here, wear hiking shoes, running shoes or gym shoes or any other sports shoes will end up getting wet on the trek. There is a shop near the base point where you can buy or rent essential things like a raincoat, boots (if it is snowing), gloves, socks, etc.
The trek distance is 9KM for one side, & you will need at least 3 hours to reach the Kishna campsite or the lake. Rest depends on your pace and stamina. Our campsite was 1.5 KM away from the lake, so we had an option to take a shortcut which would take us directly to the lake. This shortcut trail goes from inside the forest area & cut shorts the trail distance to 6KM. Mind you do not go via this way without any guide. You might end up getting lost in the forest area. Well, we decided to reach the campsite first and then head to the lake after leaving our backpacks.
Our Guide, Mr Raj with a local woman of Kalang Village, mid way to Prashar Lake.
Moderate Trek Level
The trek starts with inclined roads swirling around the mountain. You can see mists at the top of the mountains, that’s where you’re supposed to reach after trekking for 6KM.
We went in the first week of March, and the weather was chilling. Weather predictions showed heavy rainfall and snowfall as well. As we marched ahead across the open land of pebbles it had already started to rain. We were not wearing hiking shoes and it was not a wise decision.
After covering a distance of 2KM, there’s a school where students would get all excited to see you. Right after school, there is a steep upward climb for the next 3-4 KM. Due to the chilled weather conditions, I was rapidly going out of breath. The layer of clothes was burden by now. The trails were narrow & didn’t give much space to sit & relax. Even when you stop to catch your breath you would feel the force of gravity pulling you downwards. But all these efforts are worth the views you would see all around you.
Before & After images of the Campsite; Snowfall turned it into the Narnia Kingdom.
Reaching the Campsite
We started at 11 AM & exactly in 3 hours we were at the campsite. It was beautiful and we couldn’t wait to explore more. And then the most magical thing happened, the snowfall.
After hours of continuous snowfall, the entire campsite turned into the Narnia Kingdom. We decided to visit the lake the next day and enjoyed hot snacks alongside the bonfire.
Day 2- Visiting the Lake & Trekking Down
The next day we woke up after spending a freezing night in the camps. The water was so cold that I couldn’t feel my hand after dipping them in the water. Do not expect any luxuries at the campsite, even electricity is not available. Don’t forget to bring your power banks, also only BSNL & Jio phone networks are available in the vicinity.
We left the campsite at 8:30 AM, Prashar Lake was another 2.5 KM ahead, there was a good walkable road. It took us around 30 minutes to cover the distance.
Prashar Lake with Dhauladhar Range of Himalayas in the Backdrop
Ever had that feeling where you have contained your excitement for so long and finally is the moment when you can dance in joy. It was mesmerizing, the entire scene right in front of me. Lake surrounded with snow-capped mountains, serene temple, vegetations ready to bloom in summers, hazy sky indicating the probability of snowfall. I just sat there trying to inhale as much bliss as I can. This was the second last day of the trip, I had been running & hopping around for almost a week, this place was soothing my aching muscles.
Prashar lake has the perfect quotient of adventure & mysteries. So while being in quarantine you can keep exploring options for your next travel destination. And if you’re worried about the crowd, don’t worry Prashar lake is an off-beat place you’ll hardly find more than ten people here. I hope the current situation of COVID-19 gets over soon so that the world resumes its regular pace and people can travel to spread love & kindness only.